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    Balkh security transitions to Afghan lead

    MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): The security responsibility for northern Balkh province was transferred to Afghan forces on Wednesday as part of the second phase of transition, officials said.

    A ceremony marking the switch was held at the Governor's House and attended by Security Transition Commission Chairman Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Governor Atta Muhammad Noor, the German ambassador to Afghanistan and a number of consuls-general of different countries.

    Completion of the second phase of the transition process would see 50 percent of the country's security affairs transferred to Afghan forces, Ghani told participants of the ceremony.

    There had been positive changes on the security front in Balkh since the first phase of the transition was completed, he said, hoping the situation would further improve.

    He believed the process would be a success as people of the province supported Afghan forces. Ghani said Afghans needed support from the international community in all fields and the world had helped them launch the process of transition.

    German Ambassador Roger König called the security transfer beneficial for Afghanistan, saying they backed the process. "We will continue to support Afghanistan and will not leave the Afghans alone after 2014," he promised.

    Governor Noor said Afghan forces needed advanced training and a strong air force to make the transition exercise a success. He blamed the international community for failing to provide the support it had pledged for the first phase of the security handover.

    The 209th Shaheen Military Corps commander, Lt. Gen. Zalmay Wesa, said the troops were ready to take the security responsibility for all provinces in the north. He added the troops would perform their duty with or without the international community's support.